Plant species (higher), threatened

Definition: Higher plants are native vascular plant species. Threatened species are the number of species classified by the IUCN as endangered, vulnerable, rare, indeterminate, out of danger, or insufficiently known.

Description: The map below shows how Plant species (higher), threatened varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Ecuador, with a value of 1,859.00. The country with the lowest value in the world is San Marino, with a value of 0.00.

Source: United Nations Environmental Program and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, and International Union for Conservation of Nature, Red List of Threatened Species.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: The number of threatened species is an important measure of the immediate need for conservation in an area. Global analyses of the status of threatened species have been carried out for few groups of organisms. Only for mammals, birds, and amphibians has the status of virtually all known species been assessed. Threatened species are defined using the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) classification: endangered (in danger of extinction and unlikely to survive if causal factors continue operating) and vulnerable (likely to move into the endangered category in the near future if causal factors continue operating). The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. The IUCN guides conservation activities of governments, NGOs and scientific institutions. The IUCN draws on and mobilizes a network of scientists and partner organizations working in almost every country in the world, who collectively hold what is likely the most complete scientific knowledge base on the biology and conservation status of species. The plants and animals assessed for the IUCN Red List are the bearers of genetic diversity and the building blocks of ecosystems, and information on their conservation status and distribution provides the foundation for making informed decisions about conserving biodiversity from local to global levels. Only a small number of the world's plant and animal species have been assessed. In addition to the many thousands of species which have not yet been assessed so far, other species not included on the IUCN Red List are those that went extinct before 1500 AD and the "Least Concern" (plants that have been evaluated to have a low risk of extinction) species that have not yet been data based. Direct threats to species are the proximate human activities or processes that have impacted, are impacting, or may impact the status of the taxon being assessed (e.g., unsustainable fishing or logging). Direct threats are synonymous with sources of stress and proximate pressures. Threats can be past (historical, unlikely to return or historical, likely to return), ongoing, and/or likely to occur in the future.

Limitations and Exceptions: Reporting the proportion of threatened species on the Red List is complicated by the fact that not all species groups have been fully evaluated, and also by the fact that some species have so little information available that they can only be assessed as Data Deficient (DD). For many of the incompletely evaluated groups, assessment efforts have focused on species that are likely to be threatened; therefore any percentage of threatened species reported for these groups would be heavily biased (i.e., the percentage of threatened species would likely be an overestimate). Although there are over 12,000 plant species on the IUCN Red List, fewer than one thousand of these are properly documented. To help address this gap, IUCN is pursuing global assessments of plant species of value to people including species of high economic value. The conifer and cycad species already on the IUCN Red List need to be fully documented. IUCN is also developing a tool to assist with preliminary assessments of plant species. Since IUCN has evaluated extinction risk for less than 5 percent of the world's described species, IUCN cannot provide an overall estimate for how many of the planet's species are threatened. For those groups that have been comprehensively evaluated, the proportion of threatened species can be calculated, but the number of threatened species is often uncertain because it is not known whether Data Deficient species are actually threatened or not. Due to variations in consistency and methods of collection, data quality is highly variable across countries. Some countries update their information more frequently than others, some have more accurate data on extent of coverage, and many underreport the number or extent of protected areas. Also, because of differences in definitions, reporting practices, and reporting periods, cross-country comparability of threatened species is limited. In order to ensure global uniformity when describing the habitat in which a taxon (a taxonomic group of any rank) occurs, the threats to a taxon, what conservation actions are in place or are needed, and whether or not the taxon is utilized, a set of standard terms, called Classification Schemes, are being developed, for documenting taxonomy on the IUCN Red List.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: Species assessed as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (VU) are referred to as "threatened" species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species collects and disseminates information on the global threated species. Proportion of threatened species is only reported for the more completely evaluated groups (i.e., >90% of species evaluated). Also, the reported percentage of threatened species for each group is presented as a best estimate within a range of possible values bounded by lower and upper estimates: Lower estimate = % threatened extant species if all Data Deficient species are not threatened, i.e., (CR + EN + VU) / (total assessed - EX) Best estimate = % threatened extant species if Data Deficient species are equally threatened as data sufficient species, i.e., (CR + EN + VU) / (total assessed - EX - DD) Upper estimate = % threatened extant species if all Data Deficient species are threatened, i.e., (CR + EN + VU + DD) / (total assessed - EX) Additional information on ecology and habitat preferences, threats, and conservation action are also collated and assessed as part of Red List process.

Aggregation method: Sum

Periodicity: Annual